Let the Candidate Do the Talking
An HR expert points out the biggest mistakes businesses make when they conduct job interviews.
Here are today’s highlights:
The economy ended 2023 with a job-creating bang.
Should car dealers invest in the infrastructure needed to sell EVs?
Mark Cuban challenges Elon Musk’s assertion that “DEI must DIE.”
Why is Costco selling gold bars?
Meet Lou Mosca, who runs American Management Services. I edited stories about Lou and American Management at both The New York Times and at Forbes, and he was also a frequent guest on my SiriusXM call-in show. Every year, Lou and his team of consultants get an inside look at as many as a thousand independent businesses. Starting today, and based on that wealth of experience, Lou’s going to share his video insights with us here on Fridays. Let us know what you think. And let us know if you have a question you’d like Lou to address. PLAY THE VIDEO
You have until the end of the year to fulfill that new ownership-reporting requirement: “The Corporate Transparency Act requires small businesses with fewer than 20 employees to report their ownership information to the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as part of an effort to curb money laundering and illicit financial operations. The reporting requirement began on January 1, but existing businesses have until January 1, 2025, for compliance. Businesses that form in 2024 have 90 days to fulfill the requirement. The online beneficial ownership information reporting tool is now open.”
“‘The launch of the United States’ beneficial ownership registry marks a historic step forward to protect our economic and national security,’ said Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, in a statement. ‘Corporate anonymity enables money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism, and corruption.’”
“The information required includes: Name, date of birth and address of each beneficial owner. The identifying number and issuer from either a non-expired U.S. driver’s license, a non-expired U.S. passport or a non-expired identification document issued by a state (including a U.S. territory or possession), local government or Indian tribe.” READ MORE
Hiring continued to be surprisingly strong in December: “Employers hired at a solid pace in December, capping a year of steady gains for a job market that continues to defy expectations and remains a bright spot in a gradually cooling economy. The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported Friday. That was larger than November’s gain of 173,000, and better than forecasters were expecting. Hiring was revised down in both October and November. For all of 2023, employers added 2.7 million jobs, a slowdown from 2022, but a better gain than in the years preceding the pandemic.”
“Nela Richardson, ADP chief economist, told Yahoo Finance Live that the Fed will likely take notice of the bump-up in job additions in December. ‘What we're seeing with companies is insistent hiring, especially small businesses,’ Richardson said.” READ MORE
Mark Zandi likes the latest jobs report:
Gene Marks interviewed Anna Papalia, an HR expert, about the biggest hiring mistakes companies make: “There’s this belief that interviewing is like dating: kiss a bunch of frogs and you’ll eventually figure it out. Or just have a conversation and see if you click with them. Those are the worst things that you could do. An interview is a test and should be conducted like one. For hiring managers, this can be challenging, especially if you’re highly extroverted and you like to talk to people to make a connection. You need to have structured interview questions.”
“Structured questions should be derived from the job description. You shouldn’t be asking candidates, ‘What color crayon are you?’ Those are called personality questions. There’s a time and place for those. If it’s pertinent to the job, absolutely ask, but we need to make sure that you’re asking relevant questions.”
“You can start with an open-ended question like, tell me about yourself, or walk me through your resume. Get the candidate talking. Then you can drill down with technical questions. Unfortunately, many hiring managers don’t examine their job description or the needs of the position. They often times talk too much, too. Let the candidate do the talking.”
“Whether it’s online or in person, it doesn’t really change the interview. The only thing that changes is that candidates need to try a little harder on virtual interviews to get their point across. Both parties need to show more energy.” READ MORE
Twenty-two states just increased their minimum wage, but most workers won’t feel it: “Twenty-two states and more than three dozen cities and counties increased their minimum wages in January, providing a boost to millions of the country’s lowest-paid workers. The increases will bump wages for about 9.9 million workers, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The EPI’s analysis found that women make up a majority of those receiving a wage increase, and that Black and Hispanic workers would disproportionately benefit from the pay raises. But raising the minimum wage directly affects a small part of the overall U.S. labor force — about 6 percent.”
“Because of the competitive job market in recent years, many workers are already being paid higher wages because employers boosted pay and benefits. The average hourly wage in the country was $34.10 in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of 4 percent over the past 12 months.”
“Even workers in the lower-paid retail industry have seen steadily increasing wages. The average retail wage was $23.86 per hour in November, according to BLS data. Still, raising the minimum wage can help lock in some of those recent gains for workers across industries, said EPI senior economist Elise Gould.”
“Raising the minimum wage tends to be extremely popular with voters, both Democrats and Republicans. But many business groups and Republican lawmakers have opposed increases, saying it could force companies to cut jobs because they might not be able to absorb the higher costs.”
“The Congressional Budget Office last month released an analysis estimating that raising the federal minimum wage to $17 an hour by 2029 would reduce poverty but also lead to the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs.” READ MORE
Mark Cuban responded to Elon Musk’s assertion that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are racist: “Cuban wrote: ‘Good businesses look where others don’t, to find the employees that will put your business in the best possible position to succeed. You may not agree, but I take it as a given that there are people of various races, ethnicities, orientation, etc that are regularly excluded from hiring consideration. By extending our hiring search to include them, we can find people that are more qualified. The loss of DEI-Phobic companies is my gain.’” READ MORE
Car dealers are turning their backs on Buick: “The move to electric Buicks is one reason so many dealers are giving up their Buick franchises, according to auto industry watchers. They say that smaller, low-volume Buick dealers either can’t or won’t make the big investments needed to begin selling EVs, especially as sales growth in the sector has cooled and unsold electrics are piling up on dealer lots. ‘I think there are dealers who are just not confident in the electric vehicle transition and they don’t want to have to commit to the investment,’ said Karl Brauer, executive analyst at online car retailer iSeeCars.com.”
“Buick has announced its intention to migrate to an all-electric line of cars by the end of the decade. The brand’s first EV is set to go on sale this year. But getting ready to sell EVs is a costly proposition. Dealers must purchase new equipment to service the cars and must pay for worker retraining. GM estimates that the upfront cost to dealers will range between $200,000 and $400,000.”
“‘If you’re in a market where you’re not selling a lot of Buicks, investing a lot to sell electric Buicks may not make a good business case,’ said Mark Schirmer, spokesperson for Cox Automotive, an Atlanta-based automotive marketing company.”
“But apart from the EV transition, GM needed to shrink its oversized network of Buick dealers. As Brauer pointed out, only 244 US dealers sell Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand, compared to nearly 2,000 Buick dealers before the buyouts. But Lexus sold some 224,000 cars in the first nine months of 2023, compared to Buick’s selling about 124,000 in the same time frame.” READ MORE
Costco is selling gold bars: “Members of Facebook groups and Reddit message boards dedicated to Costco and gold post alerts when the gold bars are available. Those who miss out on the fast-moving items often grumble, while those who made purchases often report their success, sometimes including pictures and prices paid. Costco declined to comment about its gold-bullion product. In earnings calls during 2023, finance chief Richard Galanti acknowledged the popularity of the gold bars, saying that when the retailer loads them on the site they are typically sold within a few hours. Even with a limit of two per member, Galanti said in Costco’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call Dec. 14 that the company sold over $100 million in gold during the quarter.”
“Yet the same types of gold bars the retailer sells are available elsewhere at similar prices, and investors can trade gold-backed exchange-traded funds without worries about theft or storing physical gold. So why buy from Costco—or other general retailers like Walmart—instead of a traditional gold seller, and is it a good deal?”
“What’s more, Costco doesn’t have spot gold prices on its website for easy price comparisons. Because gold prices are volatile, listed prices will vary, and Costco’s price may be above or below the day’s spot gold price. On Dec. 14, for instance, a 1-ounce PAMP 2024 Azure Dragon minted gold bar was available on Costco’s site for $2,079.99, about 2.5 percent over spot gold prices that day. It was gone in less than two hours.”
“Regardless, buyers say the cash-back rewards they get make it worth the buy. Costco members who upgrade to the retailer’s $120 executive membership earn 2 percent cash-back rewards to spend at the warehouse club, so buying a $2,000 1-ounce gold bar nets them $40. Others say they earn credit-card rewards, which lowers the cost as well.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
This Is What It Takes to Build a Business, Vol. 2: This week, we take a look back at the conversations we had last year, highlighting some of our happiest, smartest, funniest, and most difficult exchanges. Along the way, we discuss topics such as escalating salary demands, how much profit a business should make, a new way to sell a business, the problems with ESOPs, how to sell cookies on LinkedIn, breaking a million dollars in annual revenue, escaping the valley of death, and the pain of having to fire a long-time employee.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren